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Shanghai stores cut food imports

SOME Shanghai hotels and supermarkets have stopped or cut back on food imports from Japan although authorities so far have not found any problems with Japanese food in the city. The Pudong Shangri-La said imported food at the hotel, which has two Japanese restaurants, was mainly from the United States, Canada, Russia and Norway at present. "As of March 16, we stopped importing perishable products from Japan and this applies to all hotels in our group," said Angel Mao, the hotel's director of communications. Hyatt on the Bund and Le Royal Meridien Shanghai said yesterday they imported very few perishable products and condiments from Japan even before the problems at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant. Xin Qi, media officer with the OLE supermarket, said about 70 percent of its imports of Japanese food were suspended because of safety concerns and a supply shortage. "We've stopped buying fish and fresh food from Japan for fear of radiation contamination," said Xin. "Other food was in short supply because of the damage from the earthquake, and because Japanese firms are cutting exports to meet the country's domestic demands." However, Xin said their existing stock of Japanese snacks and sauces was enough for two or three months. ParknShop said their fruit supplies were cut because orchards in Japan had suffered extensive damage as a result of the tsunami. Shanghai shoppers will still find Japanese food on the market - stock which was in place before the earthquake hit - and some hotels and supermarkets are continuing to import supplies as long as the food is verified as safe. "So far, we are continuing to import some perishable products from Japan as we used to do before the March 11 catastrophe," said Belle Bai, a communications manager at The Langham hotel in Xintiandi. "But we will make sure that every product we offer at the hotel is qualified to be imported and allowed by the local government so that there is no risk to our customers." Wal-Mart and City Shop said their imports were not affected but t! hat they would be working with suppliers to ensure safety. Shanghai's inspection and quarantine bureau said yesterday that Japanese food products currently on sale in the city were safe and there was no ban on imports. However a ban on food produced in areas affected by radiation is in force in several Asian countries and regions, including Singapore and Hong Kong, and the United States. One local woman told Shanghai Daily yesterday: "I had dinner in a Japanese restaurant in a five-star hotel yesterday. They said the beef is imported from Kobe and assured us of safety. But I'm now regretting it and hoping that everything will be fine."

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